Recipe: Christmas Pies with Cream Cheese Crust

Dec 27, 2013 by     9 Comments    Posted under: Dessert Recipes, Recipes
Christmas Pies

Christmas Pies

 

I am a huge fan of Harry Potter books and movies.  I love them and all the delicious foods showcased throughout the story…. bangers and mash, trifles, pasties, and more.  But in the movie “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, there is a Christmas Eve scene at the Weisley family’s where Harry and Genny are awkwardly flirting.  They are about to get “touchy feely” on the couch when Ron suddenly walks in and sits down right between them with a platter of stacked little Christmas pies.  Oh how delicious those pies look!

From the first time I saw this scene, I knew that I needed to introduce little Christmas pies into my Christmas tradition, and this year, being the first year of my marriage with Sadie, it was time to start.  She wholeheartedly welcomed in the thought of making this a part of our traditions, and never murmured a complaining word as we slaved away at baking 3-times more pies than we needed just so I could have a heaping pile of pies like what I saw in Harry Potter.  Oh how I love her!

How to Make a Sturdy Crust for a Hand Pie

The biggest concern I had with making a plate full of little handheld pies was getting a crust that wouldn’t fall apart when held and bit into.  A standard pie crust, like my perfect pie crust, would be far too flaky for this handheld application.  The answer….replace some of the butter with cream cheese.  I found this solution printed in the local paper of all places, and with a little modification, it turned out to be the perfect crust for my Christmas pies.  Prior to baking, the dough’s texture is perfectly moist enough to hold together, roll out, and work with, without being sticky or fall-apart flimsy.  After baking, the crust’s texture is firm, but soft to bite into.  It is not flaky or crumbly, and holds up well to stacking, fondling, and eating with your hands.  It has a subtly sweet flavor, and a bit of a savory cheese flavor from the cream cheese.  It is perfect for strongly spiced flavors like mince meat, spiced apple, and holiday peach raisin.

Ingredients Needed for Holiday Cream Cheese Pie Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 ounces very cold unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese

Instructions for Making Firm Christmas Tart Crusts

This recipe makes enough dough for 6 muffin-tin sized Christmas pies.

Place flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor.

Add Flour to Food Processor

Add Flour to Food Processor

Add butter and cream cheese, and process for a little over a minute, or until dough just starts to come together.

Add Butter and Cream Cheese to Food Processor

Add Butter and Cream Cheese to Food Processor

When you first start to process, the mixture will look like fine sand.

Processing Fine Sand Texture

Processing Fine Sand Texture

But as the fats bind with the flour, you will start to see small clumps gathering in the processor bowl.

Processing Coming Together Dough Texture

Processing Coming Together Dough Texture

You want a texture that looks like small pellets of dough.

Finished Dough Having Just Come Together

Finished Dough Having Just Come Together

Finished Dough Having Just Come Together 2

Finished Dough Having Just Come Together 2

Divide dough in half, press into disks, and tightly wrap with plastic wrap.

Form Dough Into Discs

Form Dough Into Discs

Divide Dough in Half and Form into Disks

Divide Dough in Half and Form into Disks

Refrigerate for 30-minutes prior to use.

How to Make Christmas Pies with Cream Cheese Crusts

For my Christmas Pies, I knew that the standard individual pie size would be too large, and that mini tins would be too small for what I was looking for.  The perfect sized pie for me would be 3 inches wide.  How convenient that that is the exact size that muffin tins happen to be!  Muffin tins are the perfect vessel for making these pies, as they are easy to work with, make 12 pies at once, and a standard 3-inch biscuit cutter fits directly over the muffin tin holes for trimming the crusts.  There may be some fancy custom pie press/mold out there a person could use, but a $5 muffin tin is good enough for me.

Equipment Needed:

  • Standard-sized muffin tins (3-inch diameter cups).  The crust recipe will make 6 bottom and top crusted pies, so multiply as needed and have enough tins for your needs.
  • Standard-sized 3-inch biscuit cutter
  • Small bowl or cup with a 4.5-inch diameter (to use as a cut-out guide for the bottom crusts)
  • Small cup with a 3.5-inch diameter (to use as a cut-out guide for the top crusts)
  • Rolling pin
  • Small knife such as a pairing knife or butter knife
  • Fork for crimping crust edges together
  • Brush for applying egg wash
  • Small star-shaped cutters

Now that your equipment is assembled, your dough is chilling in the refrigerator, and your oven is preheated to 350°, you’re ready to start making adorable Christmas Pies!

Use whatever pie filling you would like, but traditional British Christmas pies are made with mincemeat.  I used store-bought mincemeat out of laziness, and also used some home-canned spiced apple pie filling and spiced peach raisin pie filling we made earlier this year.  We also made a batch of triple berry filling.  We made 12 of each flavor, and they all turned out exceptional.

To construct the pies, remove a disk of dough from the refrigerator.  Cut it in half, and press one half down into a ball.  The dough will be very firm and a bit difficult to work with at first, but will soften as you roll it out.  Roll out the dough with rolling pin, flipping dough over and rotating as you do.  Flour should not be needed on your work surface, as the dough is not sticky.  Keep flipping and rotating the dough as you roll until the dough is about 1/8th inch thick.

Using a 4.5-inch diameter bowl/cup as a guide, cut rounds out of the dough.  Place each round on a muffin-tin cup, pushing gently with your fingers to press the dough evenly into the muffin-tin cup.  Press the remaining dough together and roll out again to cut more rounds. Repeat this process with the other chilled dough disk until all of your muffin tins are filled.

Fill each pie with pie filling, leaving about 1/4 inch headroom from the top of the tin.  Using remaining dough, roll out top crusts and cut with knife using a 3.5-inch cup as a guide (I used a measuring cup which wasn’t quite large enough, so I rolled each cut round out a little wider after cutting).  Place top crusts over each pie.

Make Christmas Pies in Muffin Tins

Make Christmas Pies in Muffin Tins

Using a fork, press and crimp crusts together, being careful not to press the filling out the edges.  I found that pressing one side of the crust, and then the opposite side of the crust, helped to keep the crust from moving as I crimped, thus keeping the filling from oozing out the sides.

Crimp Crusts with Fork

Crimp Crusts with Fork

Once all the crusts are crimped, cut the edges with a biscuit cutter.  This removes any excess crust and makes a uniform round shape on all the pies.

Cut Crust Edges with Biscuit Cutter

Cut Crust Edges with Biscuit Cutter

Clean Crust Edge on Berry Christmas Pie

Clean Crust Edge on Berry Christmas Pie

Using any remaining dough, make stars with star cutters to place on top of each pie.  Stars are the traditional topping for Christmas Pies, and are stupid cute.  I used three different sizes to differentiate the different flavored pies.

Place Stars on Christmas Pies

Place Stars on Christmas Pies

Brush egg whites onto each pie, and sprinkle with some demerara or turbinado sugar.  Pierce vent holes in the pies with a toothpick, then bake at 350° for 30 minutes, rotating half way through, or until crusts are golden brown and firm to the touch.

Brush with Egg Wash and Sprinkle with Turbinado Sugar

Brush with Egg Wash and Sprinkle with Turbinado Sugar

Apple Christmas Pies Ready to Bake

Apple Christmas Pies Ready to Bake

Allow the pies to cool completely in the tins, then remove by gently running a butter knife around the edges and carefully lifting the pie up and out of the tin.  Serve room temperature stacked on a platter.

Assorted Christmas Pies

Assorted Christmas Pies

 

Recipe by Jothan Yeager, December 2013

 

The Bald Gourmet starts a new Christmas tradition in his home of making and serving adorable and delicious Christmas Pies with Cream Cheese Crust.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Christmas Pies with Cream Cheese Crust
 
This recipe makes enough dough for 6 muffin-tin sized Christmas pies. Multiply as needed.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 ounces very cold unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2 cups pie filling, like mincemeat

Instructions
  1. For the Crusts:
  2. Place flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and cream cheese, and process for a little over a minute, or until dough just starts to come together.
  3. When you first start to process, the mixture will look like fine sand. But as the fats bind with the flour, you will start to see small clumps gathering in the processor bowl. You want a texture that looks like small pellets of dough.
  4. Divide dough in half, press into disks, and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30-minutes prior to use.
  5. For Pie Assembly:
  6. To construct the pies, remove a disk of dough from the refrigerator. Cut it in half, and press one half down into a ball. The dough will be very firm and a bit difficult to work with at first, but will soften as you roll it out. Roll out the dough with rolling pin, flipping dough over and rotating as you do. Flour should not be needed on your work surface, as the dough is not sticky. Keep flipping and rotating the dough as you roll until the dough is about ⅛th inch thick.
  7. Using a 4.5-inch diameter bowl/cup as a guide, cut rounds out of the dough. Place each round on a muffin-tin cup, pushing gently with your fingers to press the dough evenly into the muffin-tin cup. Press the remaining dough together and roll out again to cut more rounds. Repeat this process with the other chilled dough disk until all of your muffin tins are filled.
  8. Fill each pie with pie filling, leaving about ¼ inch headroom from the top of the tin. Using remaining dough, roll out top crusts and cut with knife using a 3.5-inch cup as a guide (I used a measuring cup which wasn’t quite large enough, so I rolled each cut round out a little wider after cutting). Place top crusts over each pie.
  9. Using a fork, press and crimp crusts together, being careful not to press the filling out the edges. I found that pressing one side of the crust, and then the opposite side of the crust, helped to keep the crust from moving as I crimped, thus keeping the filling from oozing out the sides. Once all the crusts are crimped, cut the edges with a biscuit cutter. This removes any excess crust and makes a uniform round shape on all the pies.
  10. Using any remaining dough, make stars with star cutters to place on top of each pie. Stars are the traditional topping for Christmas Pies, and are stupid cute. I used three different sizes to differentiate the different flavored pies.
  11. Brush egg whites onto each pie, and sprinkle with some demerara or turbinado sugar. Pierce vent holes in the pies with a toothpick, then bake at 350° for 30 minutes, rotating half way through, or until crusts are golden brown and firm to the touch.
  12. Allow the pies to cool completely in the tins, then remove by gently running a butter knife around the edges and carefully lifting the pie up and out of the tin. Serve room temperature stacked on a platter.

9 Comments + Add Comment

  • Two more questions: do you have a favorite muffin pan that you use for these and do you freeze or can the filing?

    • Hi Candace. No favorite pan. I just use a couple standard-size muffin pans. I have two 12-muffin capacity non-stick pans which are nice, and a 6-muffin capacity old school non-stick pan which functions just about as well for the pies. My non-stick pans are a little heavier-duty, so I’ve noticed they brown the crust a little more than my cheap 6-muffin pan, but not enough to be that big a deal. Use what ever pans you have, but if not non-stick, apply a little butter or non-stick spray to the pans before adding the crusts.

      As for the homemade pie filling, we can ours. Haven’t tried freezing it, but I could see how freezing could make for a fresher tasting fruit pie. Of course, you could just make regular fresh pie filling as well for these hand pies, just add extra thickener so they aren’t runny. Hope this helps!

  • Um…and where can I find this marvelous triple berry filling of which you speak!?!?

    I swear, you are a man after my own heart…or it is stomach?

    • LOL. :) I free-hand the berry filling every time, but it is roughly the following:
      4 cups frozen triple berries (Costco has a great organic mix of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)
      1.5 cups sugar
      zest of one small lemon
      1/8th teaspoon or so of cinnamon (cinnamon shouldn’t be overly recognizable when tasting, but should be present enough to wonder what is different)

      Cook the berries in a pot on the stove with the sugar until combined. The berries will break down some as you stir. Add the cinnamon and lemon zest and cook for a couple minutes more. Then stir in a slurry of cornstarch and water. I don’t know how much, but make the slurry very thick, meaning use as little water as possible. Add enough that the berries get very thick, like a thick jam. The last thing you want in a hand pie is a runny filling to pour all over yourself when taking a bite of the pie.

      The berries will bubble and raise in the pie crusts as they bake, so don’t fill the pies with as much berry filling as you do your other fillings. We’ve also found it best to NOT put a top crust on the berry pies. But a little star floating on their center works perfectly and is adorable.

  • Thank you so much for posting these! I fell madly in love with them when I saw the movie and have been searching for just “the right” recipe!

    Have you tried with homemade fillings, or just canned?

    • Hi Candace. I know right? My eyes lit up the first time I saw that heaping pile of pies come out from the Weasley’s kitchen. I had to have them! And now, these delicious Christmas pies are a family tradition. We make them every year and can’t seem to get enough! We like to make an assortment of flavors. We make triple berry with a touch of cinnamon and lemon zest filling from scratch (everyone’s favorite in the family), and use home-canned apple pie filling and home-canned peach pie filling as well. We also use store-bought mincemeat, which I’m going to deviate from next year to make my own from scratch to get a better tasting mincemeat. Having an assortment of 4 flavors is fun and nobody gets tired of the pies that way. We use home-canned filling because; 1, we make the stuff in the summer and need to use it up; and 2, because it’s easier and quicker to use when making 48 little muffin tin pies. But make as you please. Any filling will do, and we’ve thought about making a lemon cream filling for next year. But whatever you choose, your friends and family will eat it up and love the fun and whimsical Harry Potter inspired pies! I first saw them in Harry Potter, but little mincemeat pies with a star on them at Christmas is an age=old British tradition. Long live the Brits!

  • The new print feature is great…thanks for adding. My sister is a huge Harry Potter fan so I plan to make these for her on my next visit.

  • Beautiful…Were these tricky to get out of the muffin pans once baked? What about other fruit fillings…would these work with raspberry or cherry filling?

    • Hi Joan. I just thought I’d let you know that I added a Print feature to this recipe post. Now you can print it out save to your collection to make next year. And yes, to answer your question, these pies would be delightful with raspberry or cherry filling. I hope you try them out and enjoy!

I love hearing from my readers, so please go ahead and leave a comment!

Rate this recipe:  


× 5 = forty

Welcome!

The Bald Gourmet Mug

I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.